Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly thought that they had realized their dream when they opened Kooks Burritos in Portland Oregon. They were even more excited when the local newspaper Williamette Week decided to do a feature article on their new business. The two women recounted how they watched Mexican women making tortillas on a trip to Baja California and adopted what they saw. That admission however led to furious accusations that the two white women were guilty of “cultural appropriation.” They eventually shutdown their food truck.
The women said that the Mexican women would not share their recipes but that they would watch the “tortilla ladies” through the window to learn the process. They were told the basic ingredients and watched the other women at work. They then experimented with their own recipes until they came up with tortillas as good as they experienced in Mexico.
The led to the chorus of outrage of people like Jagger Blaec of The Portland Mercury , who denounced the women as cultural appropriators. Blaec wrote that :they colonized this style of food when they decided to ‘pick the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever.'”
This week in white nonsense, two white women—Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connely—decided it would be cute to open a food truck after a fateful excursion to Mexico.
. . . So let’s recap the story thus far: These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it in one of the few places where such a business could plausibly work: Portland, Oregon.
. . . Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly. These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.
This seems a bit over-wrought and I certainly do not get the cultural appropriation angle. I am part Italian and many have pick up on the cuisine of my ancestors. I view the adoption of Italian dishes with pride. It is true that the Mexican women did not want to share their recipe but these Oregon women wanted to learn to make great tortillas and did so by watching the masters and then experimenting at home. The closure of their business, while celebrated by Blaec and others, is a sad end for two women who merely wanted to make good food.